October 26, 2003
TORONTO (CP) -- Ed Belfour earned a milestone goaltending victory and Alexander Mogilny and Bryan McCabe returned to play key roles as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 Saturday night.
Belfour registered his 404th win to move past Grant Fuhr to sixth on the all-time list. He needs three more to tie Glenn Hall.
"It's a great honour and I'm really proud of it," said Belfour. "I'm just fortunate to have played on a lot of good teams and to be healthy, knock on wood."
Mogilny had missed six games with a strained groin and McCabe was making his debut after rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery. But both had a big impact.
Mogilny set up McCabe and Mats Sundin for goals that gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the second period. After Jaromir Jagr replied, Joe Nieuwendyk scored early in the third and Darcy Tucker added an empty-net goal as the Leafs, 4-2-2-0, won their third in a row.
"I think we're going to get better," Mogilny said. "We have a lot of ways to improve."
The Capitals, winless in six coming in, were determined to break out of a slump sullied by Jagr's bickering with coach Bruce Cassidy over ice time and Olie Kolzig's baffling .857 save percentage.
They outshot the Leafs 13-3 in the first period but Belfour was unbeatable. Tempers flared. Stephen Peat fought Wade Belak and Jason Doig punched it out with Tie Domi after Domi took exception to Doig's blind-side hit on rookie Matt Stajan.
"Matt is a young kid and I'm not going to let anybody push him around," said Domi.
The scoring fireworks were about to begin, and Mogilny lit the fuse. He was impressive on a line with Sundin and Nik Antropov.
Mogilny set up McCabe to open the scoring 1:29 into the middle period. The slick Siberian stickhandled into Washington's zone to the right of Kolzig and backhanded a pass when he spotted McCabe joining the rush on the other side of the ice. McCabe backhanded the puck past Kolzig.
"He jumped in from the point," said Mogilny. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. That time it worked."
Said McCabe: "Alex is a guy who could probably take four years off and come back and play like that."
Mogilny set up Sundin for a power-play goal at 5:43. It was another cross-ice pass and this time it was made from the left of Kolzig. Sundin lifted the puck in for his first goal of the season and 300th as a Leaf as John Gruden watched from the penalty box.
Jagr had a shot carom in off the skate of Toronto defenceman Aki Berg at 11:33 while Owen Nolan served a penalty. Jagr, who hadn't scored in four games, was relieved to get his third.
Belfour kept the Caps from tying it when he stopped Mike Grier's breakaway shot.
Nieuwendyk got a loose puck in Washington's zone and, from the middle of the zone, sent a rising wrist shot over Kolzig's right leg 1:41 into the third period for his third goal of the season.
Jagr was getting a rough ride. McCabe took a roughing penalty for face-washing the Czech star and Nolan was sent off little more than a minute later for elbowing No. 68 into the side boards. Jagr, moping since being dumped by Miss Slovakia, was barely coping.
Washington outshot Toronto 39-21 but Belfour rendered the advantage meaningless.
"There were quite a few shots and a lot of penalties but I was on top of it and seeing the puck well," said Belfour. "It was a good feeling."
McCabe was no worse for the wear.
"The knee felt great," he said. "The timing was a little off.
"That'll take a few games to get back but I got a good amount of ice time and got a couple of hits in early. It felt really good."
Belfour lauded McCabe's effort.
"He had a great game," said Belfour. "He was skating well and moving the puck well. It was nice to see, for sure."
The Caps, 1-6-1-0, are in a sorry state.
"It's a frustrating time right now for everyone," said Mike Grier. "We've just got to keep plugging away."
Notes: Doug Gilmour dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff after a ceremony honouring the former Leaf in front of a capacity crowd of 19,241 ... On power plays, Washington was 1-for-8 and Toronto 1-for-6 ... Domi was assessed 17 penalty minutes, increasing his career total to 3,228. Another 72 and he'll be sharing fourth spot on the all-time list with the retired Bob Probert ... The Atlanta Thrashers visit Monday.